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11 COPS DIE TRAGICALLY

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image The police quantum and truck caught fire moments after the collision. (Courtesy pic)

MANZINI – A trip to the office ended tragically for 11 police officers. The officers, who were on their way to various duty stations, were involved in a tragic car accident with a truck on Thursday afternoon.


The accident, which also claimed the truck driver’s life, occurred between New Village and Ngwane Park along the Mhlaleni-Nhlangano Yith’abantu Highway.
The law enforcers, under the Operational Support Services Unit (OSSU) based in Ngonini, were travelling in a Toyota Quantum mini-bus (kombi) enroute to their duty stations, when it collided with the truck.


In fact, there were 15 officers in the kombi and four of them were rescued.
Immediately after the collision, both vehicles burst into flames. The flames, enveloped the kombi and burnt 11 officers who were tra-pped inside it while also claiming the life of the truck drivers.


According to eyewitnesses, the truck was travelling from the Mhlaleni direction towards Ngwane Park while the kombi ferrying the police officers was moving in the opposite direction.
The vehicles collided a few metres from a gentle-curve which has a number of danger-posing potholes.


According to those who witnessed the accident, the impact of the collision resulted in the vehicles bursting into flames. It is suspected that a fuel tank of one of the vehicles could have exploded though this is still under investigation.
In fact, the truck which was transporting gravel to Nhlambeni, literally crushed almost the entire kombi as it landed on its roof following the collision.


Trapped


From a distance, it looked like the truck had crushed half of the kombi.
As a result, most of the passengers in the police kombi, including the truck driver, were trapped inside their vehicles.
However, four police officers were rescued before the vehicles were engulfed in flames.


These officers were quickly rushed to the Raleigh Fitkins Memorial (RFM) Hospital.
At the scene, fire brigades had a tough time trying to put out the raging fire.
Motorists and passers-by stood at a distance watching, while others recorded the unfolding incident with their mobile phones. Some of the pictures and videos were later shared on social media.


An eyewitness, Sabelo Masuku, claimed that the truck was driving at high speed down the New Village slope.
Masuku said the truck overtook his car along the stretch leading to a sharp corner.
“He missed two vehicles. And the truck was driving in a zigzag manner. Moments after turning the gentle corner which leads to Ngwane Park, it sharply swerved to the right onto the oncoming kombi. This was followed by a loud bang,” he narrated.


Confused


The moment the vehicles collided, Masuku said he was left in a confused state of mind.
“I was scared to jump out of my car. In fact, I feared for the unknown. My whole body was shaking. While still in shock, I saw the vehicles burst into flames,” he said.


Masuku, who was visibly shaken, said he could not do anything to save the officers.
Senior police officer, Danka Fakudze, who was found at the scene, described the accident as horrific.
Giving an account of what could have caused the accident, Fakudze said they suspect that the truck had developed some mechanical faults, which resulted in the driver failing to control it.


“The person who called me said he was  driving in the front of the truck. He saw it on the rear view mirror  of his car and noticed that it had lost control. While trying to get away from the speeding truck – he met the kombi along the way. The next thing, he heard a loud bang. However, he did not stop,” he explained while inspecting the scene.
He opined that his source could have been afraid to witness the horrific accident.


Dead


Acting Police Information and Communications Officer Inspector Nosipho Mnguni confirmed that 12 people were certified dead on the spot by a medical practitioner, while four escaped with injuries.
RFM Senior Medical Officer (SMO) Dr Mbuso Sihlongonyane was seen busy at the scene.


Asked about the extent of injuries, Mnguni said even though they were still to get a full report, the four officers were in a stable condition.


Mnguni, who was also at the scene, explained that they were still investigating the cause of the accident.
The assistant police spokesperson also confirmed that the officers were heading to what she termed vital installations around Mbabane.


Some of the posts include Cabinet, Parliament and some embassies.
“This was the second shift of the day.

They would have started their shift at 2pm until 10pm. They were going to relieve a shift which started at 6am,” she explained.
She then passed condolences to the families, friends and relatives of the deceased.

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